This program was modeled off a previous successful program held back in February where teens taste-tested candies from around the world. Because of the success of this previous program, the Teen Advisory Board at my library branch requested other taste-test programs.
We decided to try different Oreo flavors because of the abundance of different kinds of Oreos, especially around the holidays.
With this program, I sought to create a fun environment for kids and teens to try to guess different flavors of Oreos. I decided to not require registration, so I wasn't exactly sure how many people to expect on the day of the program, but I wanted to accommodate as many people as possible.
Since I started planning this program in February, I was able to start buying seasonal Oreos that are not available year-round, and that usually come out around holidays or major events (like Valentine's Day, Easter and Memorial Day). In addition, I was able to watch for Oreos to go on sale at our local grocery store so I could save money and buy more of a variety. In the end, I was able to buy 17 different flavors of Oreos.
When it got a bit closer to the actual program date, I started planning on how I was going to organize this program. I decided that it was going to be a blind taste-test where the kids/teens would fill out an answer sheet numbered 1 through 17, and guess the flavor after trying each Oreo. I would then announce the flavor for each number at the end of the program and the participants could see how many they got right.
I didn't give out any prizes for how many they got right, because I decided that it was just going to be for fun.
Marketing for all Omaha Public Library branches is created centrally with our marketing department, based at our main branch. Our marketing team creates a branch calendar for each branch with monthly programs listed on it and also publishes our programs on our website's calendar. Sometimes they will also send out press releases about particular programs.
Because of one of these marketing strategies, I was lucky enough to be picked up by a local publication and listed as one of seven family-friendly activities in the city for that week.
This program cost approximately $50. I bought 17 different flavors of Oreos from one of our local grocery stores. I used this particular grocery store because our library system has an account with them and I could use our library branch credit card.
Our library already owned all the other supplies I needed, such as paper plates, paper cups and a water dispenser/jug.
The day of the program, I realized that it was going to be more popular than I anticipated. We had been getting calls for over a week asking for details, including a couple of groups that were interested.
I decided to start prepping early and labeled 17 different paper plates with numbers 1 through 17 and then proceeded to cut all the Oreos in half. For some of the special flavors that had less in the container, I cut into fourths, to stretch them further.
In addition, I prepped a book cart to carry all my supplies into my teen room. On this cart, I had the plates of cookies, the blank answer sheets, a master answer sheet with answers for me, pencils, a water dispenser/jug and paper cups.
Half an hour before the start of the program, I started setting up in the teen room and realized that although I didn't require registration, I needed some way for people to sign up, because I obviously was not going to be able to accommodate everyone all at once. I decided to stick giant Post-it notes on the walls outside my teen room and make four groups with 10 slots in each group for the sign-up.
I also decided to assign times to each group so that people would know when to come back to the teen room. I made the times in 15-minute increments, but could have honestly used more like 20 minutes for each group.
In the end, 41 kids, teens and even a couple of parents attended this program. This is a very good turnout for a program at my branch, especially for one planned with teens in mind; most of our teen programs get six or eight teens.
Every participant seemed to enjoy themselves and many wanted to go buy some of the Oreo flavors after the program. A lot of the participants also expressed interest in other taste-test programs.
Because of the great response to this Oreo Taste-Test Challenge, we have decided to hold additional Taste-Test Challenge programs at my library branch. In the fall, we will be hosting a Pringles Taste-Test Challenge as well as a M&Ms Taste-Test Challenge around Halloween. We would also like to have other Taste-Test Challenges in the future for things like Twizzlers, Jelly Beans and Pop-Tarts, just to name a few.
Two days before the program, I held a dry run with a couple of staff members in our staff work room to see how the program would proceed. Because of this dry run, I realized that 17 Oreos is a lot of Oreos to try, and it would be best to cut the Oreos in half or fourths. The staff guessed right about 50 percent of the time.
Oreos are a pretty allergy-friendly snack, but I still made a disclaimer about allergies at the beginning of the program. And I did end up having one teen who was allergic to citrus, so to be safe there was one Oreo that he could not have.
I was the only staff member present for this program. I probably could have used another staff member because of the great response and number of people that showed up.
About This Library
The A.V. Sorensen Branch is one of the smaller branches of Omaha Public Library, which consists of 12 branches that serve the city of Omaha and Douglas County residents. The A.V. Sorensen Branch is the only library branch in the system without a meeting room, so most of the programs are held out in the open, or in the case of the teen programs, held in our small teen room. Because of space, we usually have to limit teen programs to 12 teens.